Work on the bond project to rebuild Davis High School is slated to begin this summer when construction gets underway on a parking lot off Tackaberry Street.
That new lot is part of an expansion plan for the Near Northside campus, and the first step in a three-phase project that will bring two additions and renovations to create a newly modernized school for 1,500 to 1,700 students.
“We’re basically working from the left of the campus to the right,” Architect Mark French of the IBI Group, told more than 40 people who turned out Thursday for a meeting to get the latest updates on the historic school.
Davis Principal Julissa Alcantar-Martinez opened the meeting by thanking the school community, especially the Project Advisory Team, for working together to move the project forward and to advocate for the best facility possible for students.
“They have stuck with this for three years even when it hasn’t been easy,” she said, noting that the school received $19 million in additional funding in December because of that support.
Among those in attendance at the meeting were District 1 Trustee Anna Eastman, District H Councilmember Karla Cisneros and representatives from the offices of Sen. Sylvia R. Garcia and Rep. Jessica Farrar.
By moving the parking to the west side of the campus, the new school will have room for two new additions on the north side that will includes modern spaces for science, the culinary arts magnet program, and performing arts, including new practice rooms, instrument storage and a learning center for dance.
The plans also feature a major renovation to the school’s historic 1928 building. That work calls for a complete remodel of the building’s interior and all of its mechanical, electrical and plumbing systems, while also preserving the school’s historic architectural façade along Quitman Street and the auditorium, which features ornate golden ceiling medallions.
Early renderings show larger classrooms, extended learning areas off the hallways for small group instruction, and a school infused with natural light and vibrant colors.
“I’m very, very excited to see the progression of this project,” said Connie Esparza, a 1966 graduate of the school and a member of the Project Advisory Team. “I just can’t wait for them to get started.”
To improve traffic flow and safety, the campus would feature a dedicated bus loop with a separate drop-off for parents and students. Also new is an after-hours pick-up area behind the performing arts addition for students participating in band, athletics and other extra-curricular activities. The main entrance for visitors would be restored to the front of the campus off Quitman on the south side of the property.
Architect Pat Zadow emphasized that the proposed design of the new additions will create a more visually appealing exterior, achieved by the use of similar building materials — glass and brick — and colors.
“I like the design. It’s good for the community and especially the students,” said Alice Gonzales, a neighborhood resident who attended the meeting with her husband John Gonzales, a 1969 graduate of Davis High school. “I hope it continues to go forward because the community needs it. I think they’re doing a good job.”
After the parking lot is finished, plans are to begin the culinary addition and then move onto the performing arts addition and renovations to the 1928 building. Because the work will be phased, the students are slated to remain on campus during construction with some temporary buildings needed for classroom space.
Del Torres, the mom of two Davis graduates and a senior who is graduating in May, said she was especially excited about the culinary arts addition, which will provide students with new banquet space to practice what they learn and open the door to more community dinners and events.
“It’s going to be nice,” she said. “I’m on board with it.”